Last Updated on April 1, 2021
Like a number of other overlooked ingredients, orange peel turns out to be something you might want to keep out of the compost and start eating. Find out about fantastic orange peel uses and orange peel benefits!
Using orange peels is yet another way root to stem eating can benefit your health, save you money on food, and cut your output of food waste–win-win-win!
ORANGE PEEL BENEFITS
It turns out that orange peels maybe even better for you than the fruit inside, containing nearly twice the vitamin C. Add orange peel to your list of immune-boosting foods!
Orange peels have other beneficial nutrients, including potassium, vitamin A, and fiber, as well as small amounts of other vitamins and minerals. (Details here if you’re curious.)
Orange peels are rich in polyphenols, plant compounds with many beneficial effects on our bodies. Scientists are studying the polyphenols in citrus peels for a range of possible therapeutic effects, including anticancer, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, and as a diabetes treatment. They also have antimicrobial properties and are considered useful for promoting dental health.
If you like studies, you’ll find more than 4000 of them on orange peels in the PubMed database!
Orange peels may also be a free source of cold-fighting compounds. According to herbalist Kami McBride,
Orange, tangerine and mandarin peel teas are traditionally used for coughs that are due to excessive phlegm in the lungs. It is a good tea to drink if you have lots of mucus, chronic chest congestion or a wet cough. Citrus peels are considered a valuable medicinal herb and are a popular ingredient in many Chinese Medicine tonics.
Ready to stop tossing these valuable additions to your cooking creations and home apothecary? Here are more than 30 fantastic uses for orange peels!
(If you’re just not up for eating them, scroll down for all the uses they have in and around your home.)
SO HOW DO YOU EAT AN ORANGE PEEL??
If you’ve never tried eating orange peel, there are a few things to bear in mind. First, on their own, they’re not delicious, though they add wonderful flavor to all sorts of foods. The orange-colored zest is the part with most of the orange-y flavor, and the pith is kind of bitter, though it’s also good for you and can be added to recipes where the bitterness won’t be a problem. A zester will make getting off just the orange part easier, though you can also use a vegetable peeler or a knife.
I tend to cut the peel with a knife when I want an orange, leaving some of the pith on the peel and some on the fruit.
Try keeping the pith on and seeing if you’re OK with the flavor. If it’s too bitter, remove only the peel and leave the white pith on the fruit.
Choose organic oranges so you avoid chemical pesticides. You can use your orange peel fresh, or you can dry the peel for future use.
Some of the easiest ways to use orange peel: Zest and add tasty little shreds of orange-peel goodness to things you’re already eating, like homemade yogurt, healthy smoothies, homemade herbal tea blends, salads or dinner recipes.
A lot of the orange peels uses below call for dried peel, so drying your peels as you eat oranges is one easy way to have what you need on hand.
Drying Orange Peels:
Oranges tend to be in season during winter, so air-drying in the low-humidity air of our heated houses is the most energy-efficient and easy method. Additionally, drying without added heat should help to preserve heat-sensitive vitamin C.
You could also use a dehydrator at low heat (around 100 degrees) if you prefer. Some people use their ovens on the lowest setting, but you’ll have heat higher than you want for maintaining the vitamin C, and you also need to keep an eye on the peels to keep them from burning.
To air-dry orange peels: Remove peel from oranges, and tear or cut into small pieces or strips. If you plan to include them in a potpourri, using a knife may create a more appealing (yuk, yuk) finished product, but that’s really a matter of personal preference.
Arrange your orange peels on a plate, screen, or clean tea towel and allow to sit out 3-4 days until they’re no longer pliable. They should be nice and crispy.
Store in an airtight container or in the freezer.
USES FOR ORANGE PEEL IN THE KITCHEN
♦ Orange peel tea is an easy way to enjoy the benefits of orange peels and can be made with fresh or dried orange peels. Here’s how to make Orange peel tea from Kami McBride.
♦ This ginger tea with orange peel is great for fighting off colds and treating coughs and congestion.
♦ Orange peels make a useful addition to your homemade elderberry syrup.
♦ Remember all that vitamin C orange peels contain? You can use this to your advantage and make a homemade vitamin C powder. Here’s how to make homemade vitamin C powder from Nourishing Joy.
♦ My Frugal Home shares simple instructions for making your own orange extract from orange peels.
♦ Use in mulled drinks. Here’s how to use orange peels in a homemade mulling spice mix from Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth.
♦ Add tiny strips of fresh or dried zest to your favorite marinade. Or make a simple homemade marinade with orange zest, oil and vinegar or lemon juice, and your favorite herbs. I recommend fresh lemon balm!
♦ Here’s a recipe for orange sauce for stir-fries from Omnivore’s Cookbook.
♦ This orange sorbet recipe includes orange peel.
♦ And of course, you can candy the peel, though I would think the sugar would undo the benefits you’re after in the peel, but they could make a frugal and easy homemade gift. Here’s a recipe for candied orange peel dipped in chocolate from Downshiftology.
♦ Here’s a luscious-looking homemade dark chocolate with orange peel from the Unconventional Baker.
If you don’t want to eat your orange peels, don’t throw them away! There are some excellent orange peel uses around the home as well.
ORANGE PEEL USES IN THE HOME & GARDEN
♦ One of the benefits of orange peel is its wonderful smell. Adding orange peel to baking soda makes a simple homemade deodorizer. Just leave a shallow bowl full anywhere you’d like to soak up some odor. When it’s done its job, use it to clean your sink or tub!
♦ Use a large piece of fresh orange peel as a bowl and fill it with baking soda to deodorize your fridge.
♦ You can also use orange peels to de-stink an oven if your fish dinner left some scent behind. Once you’ve taken out the food you were cooking, turn off the oven and immediately pop a pan filled with orange peels in.
♦ Or add your dried orange peels to some homemade potpourri for a fantastic easy eco-friendly gift.
♦ You can make an easy homemade cleaner using orange peels to make your house smell fantastic. Brendid explains how to make your own orange vinegar from orange peels.
♦ Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth shares how to use citrus and herb-infused vinegar as a homemade fabric softener.
♦ You can polish metal or clean a sink with orange peels. Wipe with the white pith to take off grime and add shine before composting.
♦ Orange peels can also be used to polish wood and remove water stains. Rub the wood with the pith and enjoy the shine!
♦ Garbage deodorizer: Drop some peels in the bottom of your garbage can for a little pleasant scent. Don’t throw out the peel when it’s done its job — put it to use in your garden or compost.
♦ Fire Starter: I’ve read dried citrus peels make good fire starters. I haven’t tried it myself, so let me know how it works.
♦ Bug repellent: The strong scent is said to repel some insects. Place orange peels where they try to come in your house, or spread it around your garden to deter critters from getting in your plants. You could also rub some on your clothing to see if it keeps insects away from you.
♦ Some people put orange peels in their brown sugar to help keep it soft.
♦ You can even use orange peels to make homemade candles! Here are instructions for orange peel candles from Delia Creates.
♦ Orange peels cut into shapes with a cookie cutter and air-dried can be used to decorate holiday gifts or as pretty homemade tree ornaments.
ORANGE PEEL USES FOR SKIN
♦ Here’s a recipe for a DIY vitamin C serum from Simple Pure Beauty that uses orange peels.
♦ You can also add orange peel powder to homemade face masks. Here are 52 DIY face mask recipes from The Pistachio Project if you need a little inspiration.
Do you ever eat or use orange peels? What are your favorite uses for orange peels?
This post is one in a series of Savvy Health Hacks, easy ways to ensure your body has what it needs to function optimally. Check out these other practical tips to help you fight colds, sleep better, ward off disease, and have more energy:
- How to Eat For Better Sleep
- Why You Need a Water Filter
- Health Benefits of Potassium
- Easy Health Hack: Sit Less
- Health Benefits of Turmeric
- Are You D-ficient?
- Easy Ways to Reduce Cortisol
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Photo credits: seal 1837, Unconventional Baker, ViviConLetizia, 3438312, Omnivore’s Cookbook
Susannah is a proud garden geek and energy nerd who loves healthy food and natural remedies. Her work has appeared in Mother Earth Living, Ensia, Northern Gardener, Sierra, and on numerous websites. Her first book, Everything Elderberry, released in September 2020 and has been a #1 new release in holistic medicine, naturopathy, herb gardening, and other categories. Find out more and grab your copy here.